Expert Article Library

Expert Testimony by Actuaries (Part 1 of 4)

Expert Testimony by Actuaries (part 1)

Actuarial Standard of Practice No. 17

Developed by the Expert Witness Task Force of the General Committee of the Actuarial Standards Board

Adopted by the Actuarial Standards Board, March 2002

Table of Contents

Transmittal Memorandum iv


Section 1. Purpose, Scope, Cross References, and Effective Date 1
1.1 Purpose 1
1.2 Scope 1
1.3 Cross References 1
1.4 Effective Date 2

Section 2. Definitions 2
2.1 Actuarial Assumption 2
2.2 Actuarial Method 2
2.3 Actuarial Opinion 2
2.4 Data 2
2.5 Expert 2
2.6 Material 2
2.7 Principal 2
2.8 Testimony 2

Section 3. Analysis of Issues and Recommended Practices 3
3.1 Review and Compliance 3
3.2 Conflict with Laws and Regulations 3
3.3 Conflict of Interest 3
3.4 Advocacy 3
3.5 Identity of Principal 3
3.6 Prescribed or Alternative Methods and Assumptions 3
3.7 Hypothetical Questions 4
3.8 Testifying Concerning Other Relevant Testimony 4
3.9 Cross-Examination 4
3.10 Consistency with Prior Statements 4
3.11 Discovery of Error 4
3.12 Limitation of Expert Testimony 4

Section 4. Communications and Disclosures 4
4.1 Written Reports 4
4.2 Oral Testimony 5
4.3 Prescribed Statement of Actuarial Opinion 5
4.4 Deviation from Standard 5


Appendix 1—Background and Current Practices 6
Background 6
Current Practices 6

Appendix 2—Comments on the 2001 Exposure Draft and Task Force Responses 10

March 2002

TO: Members of Actuarial Organizations Governed by the Standards of Practice of the Actuarial Standards Board and Other Persons Interested in Expert Testimony by Actuaries

FROM: Actuarial Standards Board (ASB)
Actuarial Standard of Practice (ASOP) No. 17
This booklet contains the final version of ASOP No. 17, Expert Testimony by Actuaries.


The ASB originally adopted ASOP No. 17, Expert Testimony by Actuaries (Doc. No. 029) in 1991. Since that time, actuarial practice in this area has evolved. Under the direction of the ASB, the Expert Witness Task Force has revised ASOP No. 17 to be consistent with the current ASOP format adopted by the ASB in May 1996 for all future actuarial standards of practice and to reflect current practices in the area of expert testimony.

Actuarial opinions that are widely divergent may raise a question about the reasonableness of one or more opinions. This question is likely to arise when the basis for any opinion is not soundly thought out or not well explained. By contrast, actuarial opinions that are supportable and carefully prepared and explained, though divergent, can generate confidence in actuaries’ competence to evaluate the costs and benefits of future contingent events. The focus of this standard is on the preparation and delivery of sound expert testimony by actuaries.

Exposure Draft

The exposure draft of this revised standard was issued in March 2001 with a comment deadline of August 15, 2001. The Expert Witness Task Force with the help of the General Committee carefully considered the eighteen comment letters received. For a summary of the substantive issues contained in these comment letters, please see appendix 2.

The most significant changes from the exposure draft were as follows:
1. The first paragraph of section 1.2, Scope, was reworded to clarify the extent to which the standard applies to actuaries providing litigation support;
2. A sentence was added to section 3.5, Identity of Principal, to specifically address the extent to which the actuary can rely upon information and instructions received from representatives of principals;
3. The last sentence of section 3.9, Cross-Examination, which advised that the actuary should expect to be cross-examined on the basis of prior statements, was stricken as being redundant with section 3.10, Consistency with Prior Statements;
4. Section 3.12, Limitation of Expert Testimony (previously titled, “Nature of the Forum”), was retitled and substantially rewritten in response to suggestions that the disclosure and compliance obligations of the actuary be more precisely identified; and
5. Section 4.3, Prescribed Statement of Actuarial Opinion, was amended to use the alternative language provided in the Transmittal Memorandum of the exposure draft.

The task force would like to thank former General Committee members Donald F. Behan, Lee R. Steeneck, and Paul B. Zeisler for their contribution to the revision of this standard.

The ASB voted in March 2002 to adopt this standard.

Expert Witness Task Force
Charles L. McClenahan, Chairperson

Frederick W. Kilbourne Lee A. Zinzow
Patricia L. Scahill

General Committee of the ASB
William C. Cutlip, Chairperson
William Carroll Donna C. Novak
Janet M. Carstens William H. Odell
Ethan E. Kra Robert A. Potter

Actuarial Standards Board

William C. Koenig, Chairperson

Ken W. Hartwell Alan J. Stonewall
Roland E. King Karen F. Terry
Michael A. LaMonica William C. Weller
Heidi Rackley Robert E. Wilcox

{Please click for the next page.]

Continue to the next article in the Expert Testimony by Actuaries series